Millennials Want More Contact with Medical Devices


By Rob Murphy, CMO, MC2

According to management consultants Bain & Company, in the last 60 years, the medical device industry relied on a single, very successful sales and marketing strategy: “sell innovative, clinically beneficial products to surgeons and “pull” these products through [to] the hospitals and other providers that ultimately pay for them”.

Now, decisions that used to be the sole preserve of doctors are also being made by regulators, hospital administrators [and the procurement process] and more formalized committees of non-clinicians. This broader set of influencers comes with different objectives. Nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists are also taking a larger role in influencing patients and physicians. These so-called “extenders” will expand as the U.S. healthcare system absorbs the newly insured, manages the expectation of the millennial generation, and stretches to care for a cresting wave of aging baby boomers.


Hospitals facing increasing pressures to improve financial performance are becoming increasingly sophisticated buyers. The demand for utilization management, quantifiable safety data and better patient outcomes has expanded the medical device customer profile from the individual physician into the C-suite, procurement departments or purchasing committees.

Hospital buying behavior has affected the behavior of doctors as well. First of all, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of physician practices that are owned by hospitals. In a survey of 500 physicians across the U.S., spanning a broad range of demographics, including all ages, experiences, specialties and size of institutions, more than 80% of physicians feel like it is part of their responsibility to help reduce the total cost of care delivered to their patients. These shifts challenge sales reps to access and establish a relationship with new decision makers and retool sales strategies.


Whether you call them “allied health providers,” “mid-level practitioners,” or, as the CDC refers to them, “healthcare extenders,” non-MD professionals are on the front lines of healthcare and they are only growing in importance. They’re the nurses, physician assistants, social workers, dietitians, respiratory therapists, and others who translate the “what” of a physician’s orders into the “how-to” for patients. The nation’s 80 million millennials, focused on wellness and prevention, are redefining health and value. With the influence of millennials growing in the healthcare community, medical device sales forces are pushed to learn a whole new language of communication.

Medical device marketers are also recognizing the value of creating patient facing marketing and education materials. Consumers, now paying a greater share of healthcare costs, are demanding more from both pharma and medical device manufacturers. They want outcomes and cost data. They expect unbiased information in order to make value-based treatment decisions. The more avenues that medical technology can use to reach these patient-facing professionals and make it easier for them to collaborate with one another, the more the industry can help create a healthier and more knowledgeable patient.


Perhaps one of the most eyeopening statistics affecting medical device marketing is the fact that, throughout the United States, an estimated 340,000 physicians began a large scale retirement in 2010. Attracting and retaining the new millennial doctors (and hospital CEOs) as customers has become critical to medical device marketers.

A better understanding of how and why these two groups purchase is paramount for medical device companies.

Millennial physicians, in particular, are prepared (and enthusiastic) to see, touch and try out a new product through a variety of channels, be it onsite training on the actual device, through gaming, simulation or virtual reality. These characteristics of the millennial attendee should influence your strategy.

• They are motivated by a “cool factor.”9

• They stay connected

• They want to download and learn on their own time and after hours

• Along with easy access, they want information dominated by the facts, backed by research and delivered with a strong value proposition


Time was medical device and diagnostic companies would say that sales reps own the customer experience. But today’s customer experience is created by medical programs, websites, traditional and Internet advertising, social media and tradeshows and conventions.

All the target audiences now have a much broader interaction with the offerings and budget pressures. A cross-channel customer-centric approach can help medical device companies identify tangible ways to create and direct a customer experience that sets their company apart10 .

This convergence will likely make marketing directly to mobile devices foundational in the medical device marketing mix, leveraging digital to foster meaningful relationships with the new tech savvy physicians, payers, extenders and patients. Emerging interactive technologies, integrated properly into the customer experience, are powerful tools for engaging and holding the targeted audience.

Digital channels are where all the new stakeholders and brands will likely converge. They empower both parties to engage on their own terms. Each technology below is designed to tell the complex story of products in a fun way and create an important communication tool for one-on-one interaction.

• Virtual reality and augmented reality , and soon to come HoloLens, allow attendees to relate and respond to things they can touch and see. This tactile relationship with our senses has the power to create strong brand affinity. “Immersive technologies are being increasingly used in combination with each other, building off of each other’s capabilities. Gestural technology and augmented realities are more commonly blended than in the past, offering greater versatility in user interfaces.” —Jason Latta, Amazing Robot & Sons 13

• Digital games and simulations create engagement and training tools, leveraging assets of the game to create a guided simulation about product use for one-on-one sales presentations

• Technology walls have the capability to play movies while multiple windows containing very detailed, complex 3D models are simultaneously popping up and responding to input from the attendee. Ambient interactivity typically refers to interactive forms built into or embedded in physical environments, such as interactive tables, windows, and walls

• Mobile technology gives buyers immediate, efficient communications from mobile applications that provide product visualization in a way that’s never been done before

• Mobile applications and business related social networks will help differentiate and extend the “e-detailing” process moving forward

• 3D Mapping projections use different surfaces for illumination and projection of 3D images. These applications are designed to support the conversations clients expect to have


The way customers seek and receive information and how we provide information and monitor results are changing. Changes to the business environment. Changes in buyer expectations. Changes in the opportunities available to communicate with buyers. Weighing the impact all of these changes is essential. Whether from a physician, extender, hospital CEO or sales force perspective, it is clear that the medical device industry must adjust itself to the needs and wants of younger generations. Marketers must become as technologically enabled as their customers. •

1 Creating a new Commercial Model for the Changing Medtech Market. Bain Industry Brief. Feb. 2011

2 Chris Llewellyn, Dmitry Podpolny, and Christian Zerbi. Capturing the new ‘value’ segment in medical devices.

3 The Changing Landscape of Healthcare Events: New Audiences. New Opportunities. HCEA. Jan. 2016.

4 Marketing To Physicians: A Physician’s Perspective., Jul. 13, 2015

5 The New Cost-Conscious Doctor: Changing America’s Healthcare Landscape. Bain Industry Brief. March 2014.

6 7 Reasons You Need to Get Closer to Healthcare  

7 MC2 Exhibits, Events, Environments  

8 The Millennial Effect: A Generation Changing Healthcare Tech nology. Kristin Hambelton. August 2015

9 Why Medical Device Companies Need a Digital Marketing Strategy. C-Suite Resources. Feb, 2014.

10 ZS Interview: Why Medical Products Companies Should Experience the Customer Experience. ZS Associates.



Rob Murphy Chief Marketing Officer, MCRob Murphy has been a vital member of the MC2 leadership team since the company’s inception in 1999. With a background in advertising as well as marketing expertise for a variety of industry verticals including healthcare, automotive and consumer electronics, Rob is able to apply his deep understanding of face-to-face marketing to the challenges these markets represent.  

MC(“MC-squared”) is a leader in the exhibit and event marketing industry. The company designs, builds and manages integrated marketing programs for events, exhibits, and brand environments for the world’s best brands. MC2 can number many of its staffers as members of the Healthcare Convention and Exhibitor’s Association. The company brings clients to more than 80 healthcare exhibitions each year.

Great Advice from Great Minds Featuring Mel Robbins

How Novartis Built a Stronger Brand in MS Therapy